Friday, August 24, 2012

TOP STORY >> Academy still growing

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Light-house charter school is expanding once more.

The school recently received approval of its preliminary plan to build a two- story 50,000-square-foot college preparatory facility next to its original campus on North First Street.

The Jacksonville Planning Commission approved the plans last week for the new facility.

The school will still have to come back to the commission with its final plans, which could come as early as next month.

Groundbreaking ceremonies are tentatively set for sometime in late September.

Once the new facility is finished, the temporary buildings will be removed and work on the school’s gymnasium will start, more than likely in 2014.

The Lighthouse Academy opened in 2009 with around 350 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

It has grown to include ninth-graders and has opened an upper academy or junior high on Little Rock Air Force Base and now has close to 1,000 students.

The ninth-graders, part of the school’s College Prep Academy, are now housed in temporary buildings at the original campus.

The schools are led by principals Norman Whitfield, Chris Carter and Evan McGrew.

The school starts earlier then most area public schools, goes longer each day and doesn’t break for the summer until the middle of June.

A student who goes to the school from kindergarten through 12th grade actually picks up about three additional years of education from the longer days and longer school year.

The school’s Flightline Upper Academy, which opened last year, won the prestigious Shining Star Award at the national Lighthouse Academies University Summer Session held at North Central College in Naperville, Ill.

All Lighthouse teachers and leaders gathered for a week of intense professional development.

The award was given to the best school in the Lighthouse Academy Network of 21 schools for achieving the highest growth in reading and math combined for kindergarten through eighth grade.

“I think this is an amazing achievement for a first-year school and especially since so many of our scholars have studied in some of the best schools in the nation”, commented Dr. Phillis N. Anderson, vice president of the Southern Region.

Lighthouse Academies is a nonprofit network of charter schools and has 21 schools in six states and the District of Columbia.